James O’Shea Lecture

A bit earlier I attended a really interesting lecture. James O’Shea, a current professor here at the University of Michigan, was once an editor for the LA Times and Chicago Tribune. He has also written three different books. The title of Mr. O’Shea’s lecture was Journalism Now and Then: A Story of Peril – and Promise. He spent a lot of time discussing his own experiences in the world of journalism, particularly about his time in Chicago. The general message that O’Shea delivered was in regards to all of the challenges that legacy media outlets currently face. In his words, “With the New York Times being the one major exception, most legacy media entities are just hanging on by a thread.” In the digital age that we currently live in, where people have short attention span and seek real time updates, it has become increasingly difficult for newspapers and such to compete. Given how saturated the media industry has become in general, it has made the situation all the more challenging. However, O’Shea did offer a ray of hope and optimism. “As long as we have passionate journalists, we’re going to be okay. As long as they are passionate about telling a story, promise will always outweigh peril.” For all you aspiring journalists out there, legacy media platforms need you now more than ever. Go for it! All writers have their own brand, so now is the time to discover yours.

One other interesting takeaway, O’Shea acknowledged that advertisers no longer need a lot of the audience that journalism provides any more as a result of the diminished viewership and the specific audience that has been lost to various forms of digital outlets. As a result of this, journalism driven entities need to look for additional new revenue streams in order to remain profitable. Funding is seemingly always a challenge in life that applies to all different industries, entities, and situations. For journalism, it is now so more than ever.

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